The New York Yankees will likely have a different-looking infield next season compared to last. After acquiring Anthony Rizzo at the trade deadline, the Bombers made a variety of moves, including shifting Gleyber Torres back to second base and Gio Urshela into the shortstop position.
With inconsistencies and liabilities littered throughout the infield, the Yankees will have to spend money or trade for supplemental players. However, the majority of their infield will remain similar to a degree — expect a few position changes.
Earlier this off-season before the lockout, general manager Brian Cashman made it apparent that addressing shortstop was a priority.
“Shortstop is an area of need. We have to address it,” Cashman said during the press conference to officially announce Boone’s extension, per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand.
It is fair to expect that the Yankees will be active once free agency opens back up post-lockout, but in this scenario, they acquire a stopgap option that offers phenomenal defense and home run hitting abilities.
Projected 2022 Yankees infield:
1B: Anthony Rizzo
The Yankees have an interesting decision to make at first base, retaining Anthony Rizzo on a contract extension or making a big play at Freddie Freeman. Freeman is expected to re-sign with Atlanta Braves given they submit to his demands, but Rizzo is a solid player who provided efficient production during 49 games with the Yankees this past season.
Over 173 at-bats, Rizzo posted eight homers with 21 RBIs and a .249 batting average. Over the season (with Chicago and NY), he recorded just a 15.1% strikeout rate, one of the better numbers on the team. Rizzo posted a 112 wRC+ this past season, representing 12% more efficient play compared to a league-average first-baseman. One way or another, Rizzo will cash in this off-season.
The Yankees know what he offers in their stadium, and given a full year, he could hit 30+ homers once again for the first time since 2017.
2B: Gleyber Torres
The Yankees have no choice but to move Gleyber Torres from shortstop, and while he could be involved in a future deal for an external player, he’s had success before at second base.
By most accounts, Torres had a down here in 2021, recording a .259 batting average with nine homers and 51 RBIs. Just two years ago, he recorded a .278 average with 38 homers and 90 RBIs, ranking 17th in MVP voting.
Over his career at second base, he has a .971 fielding percentage, representing -8 defensive runs saved above average, which is still below average in the league. He’s not as much of a liability at the position, so the Yankees would have to deal with his defensive inconsistencies if they want to enjoy his offensive qualities.
SS: Matt Chapman
The Yankees and the Oakland Athletics have been connected frequently this off-season, and the latest rumors involve third baseman, Matt Chapman. Chapman has spent the majority of his career at third base, but the idea of transitioning him to shortstop presented itself recently.
While Chapman hit just .210 this past season, he recorded 27 homers and 72 RBIs. His 32.5% strikeout rate is high, and the Yankees might be looking to lower their average than add to it. However, with impeccable defensive traits, Chapman could hold down the shortstop position for a few years until Anthony Volpe or Oswald Peraza are ready to take the next step.
3B: DJ LeMahieu
One thing that DJ LeMahieu does incredibly well is move positions flawlessly. LeMahieu was a significant help in supplementing injuries to the first base position early in the year, spending 55 games there this past season. Realistically, LeMahieu could be a long-term solution at 1B, but the Yankees want to milk all of his talents and not suppress them.
LeMahieu has spent 143 games at third base in his career, hosting a .945 fielding percentage. He’s had his fair share of struggles at the hot corner, but giving him a full workload may even out those numbers. LeMahieu just needs time to adjust and would likely hold down the spot valiantly. In this scenario, the Yankees deal Gio Urshela, who is preparing to earn $6.55 million next season and could be a trade piece.